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DSC02872As well as providing habitat for many animals in the margins, Bedfordia Farms also have large Lakeland areas, these lakes provide a safe haven for swans, ducks and geese.

Bedfordia also engages with the community to provide both bird and butterfly counts.

Bedfordia is also home to bees, these are owned by former Pig Production Manager Richard Smith. Not only providing delicious local honey the bees serve an excellent purpose of pollinating the crops.

It cannot be denied that the honey bee is the greatest pollinating machine when it comes to agriculture. Their large perennial colonies can be moved to wherever they are needed and they can communicate direction and distance from the hive to nectar sources. Honey bees also practice flower fidelity which makes them very efficient pollinators. Flower fidelity is the habit of concentrating on one specific species of flower when gathering and transferring pollen even though the insect is attracted to a large variety of flowers.

Bee hives in winterInterview with bee keeper Richard Smith

How long have you been keeping Bees?
I have been beekeeping for the last twenty eight years, all of that time keeping my bee hives on Bedfordia Farms land.

How many hives are you running?
When I started beekeeping as a novice beekeeper I started with only one hive, over the years as I became more experienced I have expanded my hives. Before my retirement I was running twenty five hives.  Post retirement I have increased to forty working hives, now I have more time.

Where did your bees come from?
Over the years I have only purchased two lots of bees, the first starter hive in 1985 and one other lot of six hives from Mr Eric Schofield who before giving up beekeeping because of old age also kept his bees on Bedfordia Farms land.

Bedfordia Farm BeeWhat breed of bees do you keep?
The breeds of the bees are what you would call Bedfordshire or Bedfordia hybrid Honey Bees, all bred from the original hives on Bedfordia’s Land. I try to change my Queen Bees every two /three years, to reduce the swarming influence that Queen bees have when they go over three years of age. Every year new young Queen Bees are bred from the best productive hives of the previous year.

Where do your Queen Bees come from?
I have never purchased a Queen from outside Bedfordshire and this I feel has helped me to keep healthy and disease free hives of bees.

How do the bees benefit farming?
Each year I contact Ian Rudge the Arable Manager reference to the location where the Oil Seed Rape will be grown for that year and move hives accordingly to help pollinate that Year’s crop.  The Honey the bees produce is a bonus but the real importance is pollination of all flowers and trees thus helping the environment for us all.